Former Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman

Published: March 4th, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CA. – Coming out of the Cisco Partner Summit (Version 1.0), Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman introduced a four-point plan that will provide more resources to channel partners in 2016.

The underlining strategy behind the move is for Cisco and its top channel partners to become a united front for customers.

In an interview at the Cisco Partner Summit, Wightman told CDN that most of Cisco Canada’s resources tend to be devoted to customers and she will be shifting at least of 3rd of that to the channel.

“We call it internally an unpackaging and what it looks like to me is to invest heavily with partners. We are going to be putting additional resources specifically technical to help partners build out those practices were they need them such as in security,” she said.

Security is a top priority for Cisco globally. The networking giant has developed a security portfolio organically and from acquisitions such as Sourcefire and Lancope Inc., but for channel partners Cisco’s strategy is to place security in everywhere Cisco does.

With that Wightman has tasked her internal sales team to commit more time to help Canadian channel chief Mark Collins and his team.

“We also want to invest resources back into the region and Cisco has always been strong in the upper segment of the market, but there are more than 60,000 businesses in Canada with an IT heartbeat. I know we can’t get to all of them on our own. I want to talk directly with them or through a partner. We get to about 2,000 to 5,000 CIOs and yet there is another 40,000 or so out there and if you include all the line of business decision makers then you need to quadruple that,” Collins said.

He added, Cisco Canada will be actively recruiting more partners for security as well as working with existing solution providers in skilling up those companies on Cisco security.

“The sales team will be re-educated on partners and partner programs so we can make much better use of them. Some partners have been frustrated with this process in the past saying the sales teams were not used enough. Now they will be educated on this and will be held accountable,” Wightman said.

She also asked channel partners during a special Canadian session at the Cisco Partner Summit to build combined plans with Cisco Canada. “We have exposed our strategy to the channel and they need to be clear on how they should work with us on making margins and profit. We shall put out joint plans with them,” Wightman added.

An interesting addition to her plan is to have the Cisco senior leadership team and the board members of Cisco Canada top partners meet quarterly.

“This plays to our simplification strategy. We are going to act as one company back to them (channel partners) and not be individuals where they have to move around us,” she said.